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North Korea Today No. 244

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No.244 October 2008
Failure of a Shellfish Farming Business Leads to Dismissals
Brawl Between Military Academy Students from Kanggun and Artillery Soldiers
Soldiers Attempt Suicide to Escape Military Service
4 Dead in Bus Accident on Bangwon Hill
A Grand Wedding Ceremony Requires an Extravagant Film

Failure of a Shellfish Farming Business Leads to Dismissals
At Fisheries Enterprise in Ongjin County, South Hwanghae Province, a manager and a party official blamed each other for the failure of shellfish farming. The fisheries enterprise had invested 15,000,000 NK won (approximately US$4,411) in a shellfish farming business. As the business ended up running into debt, the party official and manager blamed each other rather than accept responsibility and even ended up scuffling, an entertaining sight for the business’s fishermen. The county party decided to discharge them from their position.

* US$1.00 is approximately 3,400 NK Won

Brawl Between Military Academy Students from Kanggun and Artillery Soldiers
On October 14, high-ranking military academy students from Kanggun in Pyongyang City fought with an artillery unit soldier while the group was on an acorn collecting expedition.

One student of Kanggun School who fell from a tree injured his spine and could not move, however, the artillery unit member ignored the student. The classmates of the injured student showed up a little late and got upset with the artillery members, leading to a brawl. As more soldiers from the artillery company and academy units got involved, the fight escalated. Two people died and fourteen were injured.

This accident was reported to The Ministry of the People's Armed Forces. Three students who were charged with the deaths were sentenced to be in a reeducation center for 15 years. All others were discharged from their positions.

Soldiers Attempt Suicide to Escape Military Service
On October 4, a solider attempted suicide by swallowing needles in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province. He has been suffering from tough duty in the military. He was resuscitated thanks to emergency treatment. Although he was rescued by a miracle, he still stated “Why did you rescue me? I do not want to live any longer. I would rather die."

Medical surgeons decided it is impossible for him to continue his duties as a soldier. They reported his case to the battalion. The brigade made a decision to discharge him from the military service, which made other soldiers jealous of him. It led three soldiers to attempt suicide by cutting an artery so they could also obtain a discharge from military service. One of them cut an artery too deeply and ended up dying from massive bleeding before he could be saved. The two others are now in a coma. Corps headquarters checked the mental condition of soldiers because they were concerned about other copycat cases.

4 Dead in Bus Accident on Bangwon Hill
On October 20, a Servi-car of Chungjin rolled down at Bangwon Hill, killing four and injuring 12. This vehicle was a Servi-car operating among Chungjin, Hoeryong, and Onsung, the accident was attributed to a brake malfunction. Because of this accident, many people injured their arms and legs and a couple of people have already died during treatment at a nearby hospital.

A Grand Wedding Ceremony Requires an Extravagant Film
With the exception of Pyongyang, the living standards of Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, are among the highest in the nation. For example, people think that a grand wedding ceremony requires the family to shoot a video. A couple of years ago, people believed that bedding sets, a variety of dishes and bowls, and banquets were the mark of a grand wedding ceremony, now one has to make a video in order to make it a truly upper class affair.

It is not easy to make a video for a wedding ceremony in Hamheung, Chungjin, or Wonsan, but it is possible to see events recorded by video cameras in Sinuiju. Although the fee is about 300,000 to 400,000 NK Won ($88 to $118), the rich pay such a big cost because they believe a wedding ceremony can happen just once in their lives. Of course, ordinary residents and farmers cannot even imagine this extravagance. Cho Hwa-soon (41) living in South Sinuiju said, “We can buy 500 kg of corn for the same price as shooting a video. Extremely rich guys can do that, but ordinary people who are worrying about each meal cannot even imagine doing something like that.”

On a different note, authorities now prevent bridegrooms from lifting their bride up in their arms and carrying them from their cars to their houses because it follows a foreign custom. People are complaining about this measure of the government.
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